hey, look! a new year

It’s early morning on the first day of the new calendar year. I had brought in the turn the best way I know how: sleeping. My poor wife is down the with the stomach flu that bedeviled me on Christmas day (I slept through most of that holiday). She didn’t stay up for the turn either. Oh well. It’s mostly arbitrary anyway. I always thought that the turning of winter into spring was an event more worthy of observation and celebration. That’s when the Persians observe New Year; seems more sensible to me.

One of the first things I did this morning was log on to Duotrope’s Digest to see if my transition to paid subscriber worked. And it did, seamlessly. Do I feel special, being part of the “elite” who have bought into the country club of literary marketing? Not at all. Rather, I feel an obligation to use the heck out of it to justify the money I spent.

This does not, however, translate into a vow to write more or get published more or get more serious about my writing or any other such resolution for the new year. It doesn’t even mean I’ll try to post here more frequently. As I said, the annual change is mostly arbitrary, so such a vow is as meaningful to me in the middle of October or April as it is on the first of January (which is to say, not very meaningful at all). Whatever it is that motivates me to rise in the impossible hours, to wrestle with words and meaning, waxes and wanes on its own schedule and would likely scoff at any resolution I might try to impose on it. Understanding is better than management anyway. That’s what I strive for: to understand my motivations so I can serve and use them better.

I ended the year with two more rejections. One was to Glimmer Train, which is about as sure a thing as you can find in this business (the rejection, I mean). I’m not sure why I even submitted to them. I think they had some sort of open submission event or something, and I tossed them one of my Fathers and Sons stories because it was easy and free. I had no illusions, and I met no surprise when the no-thank-you came in. The other rejection merits a bit of discussion since I think it holds the record for the fastest negative response I’ve ever received. I sent it in on December 24 and received the rejection on December 26. I suppose they waited for a whole day to pass as a courtesy to me. Or maybe they were otherwise engaged on December 25. Well, they must decide what they want to publish, but I had thought my story was suitable for them. I’d read several stories on their site and felt that mine was similar in tone and subject matter. But I’ve never been very good at having an objective eye for these things. I either “like” a story or I don’t. Further analysis is either beyond me or too much effort. I’m lazy in that way (too).

Nonetheless, I have a half dozen stories in circulation — including a couple of possible reprints — and about that many more stories in development. (Doesn’t that sound clinical: in development?) Then there are those two elephants in the room: my two completed novels. One is definitely complete. The other is ready for its re-read. A fellow could devote a fair amount of time in the coming months circulating these for consideration as well. (Or he could sneak off to his cabin in the woods and sit on the shady porch, writing letters to friends — or to one good friend anyway.)

We had snow fall on us yesterday and through the night into the (arbitrary) new year. It wasn’t much. Barely a couple of inches. But it follows the couple of inches we had a week ago that lingered on the streets and sidewalks because of the ensuing cold. You know where this is going: it’s interfering with my running. Yes, I’m still running around. I think that may be the most signal thing of 2012; I became a runner that year. I had wanted to start 2013 by running on the very first day. And I could probably go out there right now and run down the middle of the plowed road without seeing a single car in five miles (well, okay, a few cars) except for two things. One is that it’s currently 18 15 13 degrees. Now, I’ve run in this kind of cold before; it’s possible, though I’ve come back with icicles in my beard. Literally. And Santa brought me a lot of really sweet cold-weather running gear. So that excuse is mostly useless to me. The other, however, is more persuasive. I seem to have developed a case of tendonitis in my right heel. It’s not so bad. I only feel a burning, stabbing pain every time I take a step. But everything I’ve read says that you should not try to run through this pain, that you’ll only make the tendonitis worse. And I’d hate to be a few miles from home, in the snowy dark, in 18 15 13 degrees, with my wife sick in bed, and find I cannot get myself back. (As it is, here at 6:10 a.m. on New Year’s Day, I can hear the wail of police and ambulance sirens far outside my window. I’d hate for one of those to be for me later.) And so I’m sitting here, stretching my heel and nursing my wounded running ambition. I should take it as a sign to work on some stories or something. But I don’t believe in signs. Or portents either.

Anyway, for what it’s worth, Happy New Year to you and yours! As these things are measured, I hope it’s productive for you.

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4 Comments on “hey, look! a new year”

  1. Like you, I don’t have a list of resolutions…or even one. I’m not opposed to them; it’s just that you do things or you don’t. I typically take a look back at the year that’s ending and think, “Was I happy and productive?” The two things often run hand in hand, and I’m usually happy. So, like you, I just do what I’ve been doing: putting one foot in front of the other and doing my thing.

    I hope the tendonitis clears up quickly and that 2013 is a mighty fine year for us all!

  2. Annam Says:

    Rest up that heel. Happy New Year!

  3. Averil Dean Says:

    Ouch! Ouch for your heel and your wife with her flu. I am bedeviled by migraines as per usual, but I always feel I got off easy if I don’t end up eating saltines for a day.

    Have a good arbitrary new year, my friend.

  4. LauraMaylene Says:

    Keep us updated now and again on Duotrope now that they’re subscription only. Do you have any idea how many people have subscribed? How active is it? I guess I’m curious how their data will change with time. You’re right that, by paying, people will probably be more conscientious about posting results, though there will be fewer writers doing so. Good luck!

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